The National Rural Health Alliance is comprised of 36 national organisations. We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the more than 6.7 million people in rural and remote Australia. Our members include consumer groups (such as the Country Women’s Association of Australia), representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, health professional organisations (representing doctors, nurses and midwives, allied health professionals, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, paramedics, health students, chiropractors and health service managers) and service providers (such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service).
Its large and diverse membership gives the NRHA a broad and authentic view of the interests of the people of rural and remote Australia. It works with a range of stakeholders to improve the health and wellbeing of those people by developing well-targeted, cost-effective, evidence-based solutions. The NRHA is a rich source of credible information and expertise, and stands ready to work with Government and Opposition on responses to current and emerging rural health issues.
The NRHA produces a range of communication materials, including Fact sheets and infographics, media releases, its flagship magazine Partyline - which has more than 13,000 subscribers, - and a monthly online newsletter Bush Wire.
The centrepiece of our communication, our website, received more than 73,000 visits in 2014. We are also active on social media with more than 6,000 Twitter followers and over 3,500 people following our page on Facebook. Our enormous reach allows us to disseminate rural health information to a broad audience and promptly gather its views on rural health issues of the day.
We manage the Australian Journal of Rural Health, a highly credible source of research information, policy articles and reflections related to rural health. In 2014 there were over 160,000 full article downloads from the Journal. It is an important publication for researchers and practitioners, and for policy makers in their design and implementation of policies and programs.
Since the year 2000 we have managed the Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarship (RAMUS) scheme for the Australian Department of Health. At its peak RAMUS supported 587 students from a rural background to study medicine. Managing the program has given the NRHA unique insights into aspects of the rural health workforce 'pipeline', and meant that it is well-placed to advise the Government on the formulation of health workforce initiatives.
The NRHA has also managed Steam 2 of the Rural Health Continuing Education program which has supported continuing professional development (CPD) for health professionals working in more remote areas. From 2010 to 2015 RHCE2 provided support to 119 projects which helped around 8,500 health professionals. This work has strengthened our understanding of an increasingly important workforce development and retention strategy - one which will be critical in addressing future workforce issues.
We host the National Rural Health Conference, a biennial event which brings together people from all walks of life with a commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of people in rural and remote areas. The conference spans four days and attracts over 1,000 delegates. It is an important opportunity for people to network, raise issues and ideas, and to guide the Alliance in prioritising its policy work. We are also currently working on a number of other events, such as Caring for Country Kids, the biennial Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium, and follow up to a series of RHCE2 Roundtables held in each State and the Northern Territory.
For those looking for closer engagement with us, there is Friends of the Alliance, a network of people and organisations that come together to support our work and provide additional grassroots connections. If you would like further information on any of our work, please visit our website at www.ruralhealth.org.au or contact us on (02) 6285 4660.